Wireless communication has to be one of history’s most reinvented wheels. The first wireless technology was spoken language. This was good, but the range was limited
and privacy was difficult within the effective range. Drum beats and smoke signals were invented to help increase the effective communication range, but they virtually eliminated privacy.
In contrast, wire communications rely upon a particular conveyance media. Couriers were the earliest “wires,” physically conveying information from one place to
another. This was far more private than drum and smoke signals, and could be used over greater ranges. The downside was that couriers were relatively slow and could be easily hampered by terrain, weather, and other adversarial forces. Carrier pigeons improved the speed and range of couriers, but at the expense of security and reliability.
The first modern form of wireless communication was the radio signal. Scientists had already figured out that sound traveled as waves, and that these waves could be transmitted across electrical wires. As scientists began to learn about the concepts of electricity and magnetism, they realized that the same information could be sent through the air as electromagnetic radiation, thus the name radio. Thankfully the names radiomatic and radiotron didn’t stick. Society would have never progressed past the 1950s.
The first consumer devices capable of broadcasting radio signals were ham radios. Then came infrared devices and cordless phones, which initially had very short ranges.
Infrared devices were particularly limited: they required a clean line of sight to the receiver. It wasn’t long before cellular phones arrived. The first cellular phones had much
greater range than any of their predecessors. Today’s cellular and cordless phones are even more advanced, with greater range, clarity, and privacy features.
The above information is the start of a chapter in "Network Security Illustrated," published by McGraw-Hill and available from amazon.com, as well as your local bookstore. The book goes into much greater depth on this topic. To learn more about the book and what it covers, click here.
Below, you'll find links to online resources that supplement this portion of the book.